The patent litigation team at this international full-service firm vigorously pushed ahead with its pan-European expansion strategy and is shaping up to be a persistent challenger to the German market leaders. The firm takes a mixed approach and, in early 2022, rounded out the Munich-based team of lawyers, which focuses on mobile communications and pharma suits, with a team of seven patent attorneys from Isenbruck Bösl Hörschler. This step shows the role that the European patent team is looking to play at the UPC with Germany as a central pillar.
The two equity partners Stephanie Nottrott and Fritz Lahrtz are not just renowned prosecution lawyers for pharma and biotech patents. They also enjoy good names for technical advice in litigation in this segment, where litigatorPeter Meyer has an especially strong relationship with Bayer. The patent attorney’s most important clients include Roche Diagnostics and its Japanese subsidiary, Chugai Pharmaceutical. Fritz Lahrtz is leading a strawman objection at the EPO against CRISPR/Cas patents owned by Sigma. The patent attorneys are also active for Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics and Roche Diagnostics in EPO oppositions.
The patent attorney team also focuses on chemical patents, with special materials company Celanese an important client. In the future they will work closely together with Simmons & Simmons’ patent attorneys in Amsterdam and London. The prosecution clients of the Munich and London patent attorneys offer the litigation team much potential for pan-European and UPC proceedings. It is also interesting that Simmons & Simmons’ patent attorneys, unlike their counterparts at Bird & Bird or Hogan Lovells, do not forgo intensive prosecution work.
It is not only the arrival of the seven patent attorneys that has concentrated the German practice more in Munich – practice head Meyer also moved to the Bavarian capital. Düsseldorf is now merely an outpost for the team, with one counsel and two associates. The balance of power within the German group has thus shifted considerably towards Munich in a short space of time.
This was also a result of Thomas Gniadek’s very active role on the side of Xiaomi and Oppo/OnePlus in mobile communications suits brought by NPEs, including SEP, FRAND and anti-suit injunctions. To ensure that the work for two of the Chinese implementers seeing the strongest growth at present is not just a flash in the pan, the high-tech team led by Gniadek must follow this up with new instructions quickly. Both Oppo and Xiaomi hire other firms in Germany. The Dutch team’s good connection to Samsung offers the German team a basis for further expansion. The Korean electronics corporation is, after all, enforcing more of its own patents in Europe.
Litigation and prosecution related to pharmaceuticals. Strong European litigation team.
Of all the large, pan-European patent litigation practices, it is perhaps that of Simmons & Simmons that is most often underestimated. The work for Xiaomi, Bayer and Samsung Bioepis showed that the firm is a force to be reckoned with in pan-European litigation – in both the pharma and mobile communications sectors.
The expansion of the London and Amsterdam teams was followed by a spectacular reorganisation of the German practice with the hiring of the patent attorney team specialising in life sciences from Isenbruck. The Munich patent attorneys will work closely with those in Amsterdam and London in the future. Munich and Amsterdam specialise in life sciences patents, while London also has a focus on electronics and mobile communications.
With the recent investments in laterals, Simmons & Simmons has made it clear that it wants to play a substantial role in the UPC. With offices at all key UPC locations, the firm does indeed have a good starting set-up. The fact that the firm is growing its patent attorney team in Amsterdam, London and now also in Munich points in the right direction. Moreover, in London of counsel Kevin Mooney, Simmons & Simmons still has one of the influential architects of the UPC in its ranks.
With such success behind it, Simmons & Simmons is shaping up to be a real European powerhouse for both pharma and mobile communications cases. Market leaders like Hogan Lovells and Bird & Bird will have to keep a watchful eye on Simmons & Simmons if they do not want to lose market share once the UPC arrives.
Peter Meyer (“outstanding technical understanding”, competitor), Thomas Gniadek (“Thomas is a tough fighter with a pragmatic approach”, competitor); patent attorneys: Fritz Lahrtz (“succinct, strong presence”, competitor), Stephanie Nottrott (“very good briefs, friendly manner”, competitor),
4 equity partners, 2 non-equity partners, 3 counsel, 5 associates (including 7 patent attorneys)
Fritz Lahrtz, Stephanie Nottrott (both from Isenbruck)
Traditional focus on advice and litigation. Strong focus on the pharmaceuticals sector. Growing activity regarding mobile communications, including on the interface of patent and antitrust. Also electronics and medical devices. Strong patent prosecution activity focusing on pharma patents.
Litigation: frequent litigation for Imperial Tobacco and Samsung Bioepis; Xiaomi (defendant) against Philips over SEP and FRAND (settled 2022); Xiaomi (defendant) against Sisvel over SEP and FRAND (settled 2021); Oppo/OnePlus (defendant) against IP Bridge over SEP and FRAND (settled 2022); Bayer (claimant) against various generic drug companies over cancer drug Nexavar; Firecomms (defendant) against Broadcom over opto-electronics patent; Thales/Gemalto (claimant) against competitor over SIM card technology; HTC (defendant) against IPCom on antitrust aspects of mobile communication suits; Reemtsma (defendant) against BAT over cigarette packaging; Helios (defendant) against Lunos over ventilation technology for external facades; Formlabs (defendant) against DWS over 3D printer; Tinder (Match Group, defendant) against Hoccer over communications patent; Gree (claimant) against Supercell over gaming patents (settled); Wilan (claimant) against Sony over LTE patents; Chugai Pharmaceutical regarding EPO opposition over antibodies; strawman in EPO opposition against Sigma over CRISPR/Cas patent; Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics against Lonza and others in EPO opposition over IPS cell technology; frequently for Roche Diagnostics. Prosecution: filing for Agenus, Celanese, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, Magforce, Roche Diagnostics, Sanofi Pasteur. Advice: Clariant on portfolio management, licences and FTO analyses; Tarkett on licences and FTO analyses; Fontem Ventures on FTO analyses and in connection with e-cigarettes.